Viktor Orbán's philosophical inspiration most likely comes from a couple of local sources. I already mentioned his invocation of biblical quotations, undoubtedly supplied by Zoltán Balog, the Hungarian Reformed minister. His "political philosophy" probably owes a lot to András Lánczi, the author of Conservative Manifesto (2002). Lánczi's ideas are similar to the until recently fashionable neoconservatism but with a Hungarian twist. The basis of Lánczi's conservatisim is "morality." His favorite words are "order," "stability," "laws of nature," and "hierarchy." These words are echoed in Orbán's speeches and writings, though in their second life they are stripped of any theoretical sophistication.
But here I don't want to talk about the hodgepodge of pseudo-philosophical ideas that Orbán invokes but about the language that he (or his speechwriter/ghostwriter) uses. His latest opus appeared in today's Magyar Nemzet entitled "The Age of the Right in Europe." The article is actually a more detailed version of his speech in Tusnádfürdő. In brief, the left is dead and the time of the right has arrived. But the language! That's something else. Here's a sampling of "interesting" turns of phrases starting with the second sentence about the collapse of communism twenty years ago: "Only xenoliths, a few rocky reefs remind us of a sunken empire." Or the next sentence about the present political and economic problems that "whirl around the world amid drifting ice." Or what about this? "Asia is rising ever higher and being watched with a mixture of admiration and shudder…." "It doesn't matter which way we turn our sights, the accustomed landscape is being reorganized by the vibrations of change." I'm getting very dizzy.
From the reefs and drifting ice he turns to Europe which is the "epicenter of the [current political] movements." This is where, according to Orbán, real changes are taking place. In Europe a historic chapter is coming to a close because "an intellectual system of co-ordinates lost its validity." This system of co-ordinates is neo-liberalism, which is "an odd creature." Looking more closely at this creature one discovers "a tangled and oppressive imbroglio of myths, taboos, superstitious beliefs." Then comes an aside, perhaps straight from Reverend Balog: "It is worth noting that intellectual circles used to call the Middle Ages dark, most likely because in those days the people still believed in miracles." An interesting explanation! He does not want to minimize liberal democratic achievements of the past. After all, the left "deserves credit" for fighting for the basic rights of people. He finishes his brief historical discourse on social democracy by making us "step over the trenches of a world war and the bodies of pernicious dictatorships."
The economic elite, which according to him is liberal and sympathizes with the left, is not just growing; it is sprawling (terpeszkedik), a verb with a much more aggressive meaning. The left is faced with an "ideological void," and "it is not only traveling on a road leading to nowhere but it turns into the first dead-end street." This is a "political horror show." "The left navigated its ship into the harbor of neo-liberal anthropology." That was bad enough, but the real trouble was that "it dropped its anchor there." "The well-oiled machine of the neo-liberal financial circles thrives by trying to convince the world of their truths." It also seems that the economic crisis brought to the surface a fact that was "submerged in the plugged-up well of reality." That fact is that "the market only protects the interests of the capitalists."
Then comes the Hungarian political situation. In Orbán's vision there is not one extreme political group but two: the left-liberals are also extremists. These two extremes are fighting each other and their "verbal duels can be heard on the political stage of Hungary." This verbal duel, according to Orbán, is injurious to Hungary's reputation abroad. These two extremist groups are throwing "verbal cannisters" at each other, while "the owners of these cannisters hang onto each other and pretend to wrestle. In reality they are dancing according to a prescribed choreography." "The nightmare of both of these groups is a Fidesz government that will bring tranquility, stability and security." And finally, Orbán borrows from our conservative philosopher Lánczi when he writes that "these last twenty years for us was a period of transition." Now the real regime change will come, and the "honor of the nation will be restored." His government will be able to give "a historical opportunity to the Hungarian people. It will be the people's opportunity and the government's responsibility."
I concentrated here on Orbán's language. I don't know how other people feel about it, but when I look behind the forced metaphors I find almost no substance. We don't know how the right, once victorious, is going to restore the economic health of the country or solve the current social problems. Turns of phrases are masquerading as policy. And charges lodged to suggest a conspiracy between the extreme left and the extreme right are outright false. There is no extreme left, and the left-liberals are not dancing arm in arm with the extreme right. Why does Orbán think that an entirely new age is on the horizon? Questions, questions. No answers but lots of words. Real wordsmithery.